In the past, there have been ongoing issues and discussions with regard to Jack Wolfskin and the protection of its brands. This document will therefore provide extensive and transparent information on our position with regard to this topic both in the past and today.
Which wordmarks and design marks are protected?
For Jack Wolfskin, the “PAWPRINT”, “JACK WOLFSKIN” and “DRAUSSEN ZU HAUSE” or “AT HOME OUTDOORS” marks are protected under trademark law. In addition, other trademarks that have been launched by us for particular products or as an indicator of particular quality standards are also protected, including our TEXAPORE and NANUK trademarks.
What is a brand?
A brand is what defines a product or service, allowing it to be distinguished from others. In general, it indicates the manufacturer who made the product. Brand products are associated with specific characteristics and qualities. The brand serves to guide the consumer during the product selection process.
So that the distinction of the product or service is clear and not used by several companies at the same time, which would be confusing, brands are protected by being entered into the registers of (i) the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Community Trade Marks), (ii) the World Intellectual Property Organisation (International Registration trademarks) or (iii) the relevant national trademark offices. This protection is essential in order to guarantee the identity of the brand and to protect consumers against fraud and plagiarism. Not only can words be protected, but design elements (such as our pawprint) and combinations of wordmarks and design elements too. Trademark protection always relates to specific product or service areas.
Trademark law is not the same as copyright law
Misunderstandings primarily arise when people do not distinguish between trademark law and copyright law. While copyright law must guarantee that the individual intellectual creation of a copyright holder cannot be used by another without the holder’s consent (regardless of whether it is used for commercial purposes or not), trademark protection does not require an act of intellectual creation but solely the entry of the trademark into the register by the relevant trademark office for specific goods or services. As with the Jack Wolfskin pawprint, trademarks can also be registered for symbols for which there can be no copyright protection as a result of a lack of sufficient originality. In this way, a pawprint cannot be seen as having been invented by anyone, but can still be registered as a brand and protected for specific product and service areas.
Why does trademark law polarise people?
Sometimes there are misunderstandings that a symbol such as a pawprint could belong to a company. This argument, however, overlooks the fact that trademark law does not establish a universal right to use a trademark as such (as opposed to trademarks protected by copyright), but solely regulates its commercial use as a trademark for specific goods and services and assigns this right exclusively to the owner of the trademark. Companies see their brands as part of their own identity, and thus our pawprint and “Jack Wolfskin” embody the origin of our products, including their quality standards. For this reason, we object to third parties assuming this identity as their own. We believe that anyone experiencing the same thing, with someone else assuming their identity, would feel the same way.